THE MISSION CONTINUED
As mentioned at the close of the previous section, at the end of the summer 1934 with the approaching autumn and the change in the climatic conditions it really became impossible to carry on much longer under canvas. It was necessary, therefore, at both Bootle and Tuebrook to find more suitable meeting places and whereas it may reasonably have been expected that there would now be some diminution of the blessing which had been experienced, this was not at all the case. In both cases God continued to do wonderful things and each has a remarkable testimony to tell.
At the end of the summer 1934 the decision was made to construct a large wooden temporary building to hold the crowds that were still anxious to attend. This was to be on the same site as the tent had been held. In the meantime while they were waiting for planning permission from their local council the services were held in two local cinemas on Sundays and local churches were made available for the weeknight meetings. On one Sunday in October 1934 Pastor Anderson Brown conducted a service in the Commodore Theatre, Stanley Road holding over 2000 people, but it was still not big enough, so an overflow meeting was held in a chapel which had recently closed down for want of support. At this meeting which commenced at 6.30pm there were hundreds of people already waiting at 4.30pm, an hour before the doors were opened. In the afternoon service where 1200 people attended a great number of sick people was healed, including the following: -
As the Bootle Times reported on 9th November the attendance at these services remained undiminished. An advert appeared in this paper advertising a "Great Bethel Full Gospel Rally in the Commodore Theatre" taken by Edward Jeffreys, and was described as "Revival Party No.2." The next day a huge baptismal service was held at the Casino Skating Rink, Kensington. This followed a similar service for the Tuebrook church the previous week at which 5000 people attended.
In the closing days of 1934 the new pastor, A Anderson Brown wrote, "for over seven months the revival fires have been raging. In great meetings tens of thousands have surrendered to the claims of Christ."
On Tuesday afternoon on New Year’s day 1935 Bootle Bethel was opened in the new wooden building. The Wooden Cathedral, as it was known, was the largest building used for worship in the whole country and was erected on the same plot of land as the tent had been pitched, and was the only one of its kind in the country. It was a sectional building that could be made to hold 200 or 2000 people. It was supported by 200 strong pillars, was 125 feet long x 75 feet wide, and was built in three bays. The service was taken by Edward Jeffreys and the 2000 seats were insufficient for the great throng present, so many were obliged to stand and that despite inclement weather. Somebody saved during the first service of the Wooden Cathedral was a young boy 8 years of age by the name of Richard Kayes who became the well known minister of the People’s Church, Everton, Liverpool. Three of his elders were converted at the tent. He later went on to establish two other People’s Churches in Cheshire and Shropshire (see "Modern Day Recollections").
The Wooden Cathedral was intended to last 5 years, but 30 years later it was still standing. Although it was a difficult building, hard to keep the rain out, hard to keep warm in the winter or cool in the summer, it was loved and loyally supported by many.
The present church building which dates back to 1965 replaced the wooden tabernacle although there is a photo around 1975 showing part of the old building still standing at the rear, some 40 years on!
The Tuebrook church was formed from the tent meetings in Lister Drive, Tuebrook. There was a lot of difficulty in trying to find a suitable building to accommodate the great multitude who wished to enrol under the Bethel banner. They met in a cinema and dance hall, and then the Casino Skating Rink in Kensington became available that would be able to accommodate 5000 people. There was naturally a lot of concern about being able to fill such a building. However, on 8th October 1934 on the first night that it was used it was full, with a tremendous queue formed well before opening, and a large crowd gathered every night until the following Sunday when it was packed out again. Many people came to Christ during these meetings. It was the largest building ever used during the Edward Jeffreys campaign, twice as large as the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. At this meeting a reporter from the Liverpool Post and Mercury attended and in his report in the paper the following day he said that Pastor Jeffreys had invited those who had been healed in previous missions to step on to the platform. Amongst those who testified were the following: -
Pastor Jeffreys told the reporter that in cities and towns the churches were empty, but that these meetings proved that there was still the drawing power of the gospel.
On the last Sunday evening in October, Pastor Jeffreys preached again to 5000 people gathered and many people received Christ as Saviour at this service and during the weeknight meetings many people came for healing and several remarkable cases of healing were witnessed. As previously stated 5000 people attended an impressive floodlight baptismal service conducted by Pastor Jeffreys at the Casino in Kensington, with 120 people being baptised. Many of these being young people who sang "I must have the Saviour with me, for I dare not walk alone" before entering the water. Mid-week meetings were also held every night at the Queens Road Methodist Church with packed congregations. The church then moved to the Elizabeth Road Chapel, and then a Welsh Chapel, and in October 1936 Edward Jeffreys laid the foundation stone of the Tuebrook Bethel Temple (as it was then known). From the ranks of this church numbers of people have gone into full-time Christian service.